Jesus vs. The World

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In the midst of the upcoming presidential election, Laila asked about my thoughts on Donald Trump. Without hesitation, I told her that I don’t put my entire faith into mortal leaders. After watching many political campaigns, I’ve confidently concluded that the race is usually between bad and worse. At this point, I would be more excited to vote for a cat if it was running for office.  In short, I encouraged Laila to investigate further so that she can make her own, informed opinion.

It’s crazy that while I was writing this post, a very peculiar story emerged in the news. It was about a man who fasted to pray for Trump’s recovery from COVID-19 and died from cardiac arrest. He had a “Trump Temple” in his home along with a 6-foot statue of the president because he was revered as god.  On the bright side, a few months ago there was a report about thousands of people putting up ‘Jesus 2020’ signs ahead of the election.

As for my vote, I pledge faithfulness to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

It is only sovereign God who gave us authority to rule and care for the world (for now). Sadly, people have twisted this duty to exercise their tyranny and dominance over others which has resulted in violence and destruction. In the darkest parts of the human heart, dwells the insatiable desire to gain power and control. We have become experts on designing and implementing oppressive systems which benefit few and hurt many. The elite maintain their position at the expense of the weak and destitute by keeping them on the lower rungs of the ladder. Under this type of structure, it is a challenge to maintain civil laws as people are forced to make tough, moral choices such as starve or steal.

To comprehend the purpose of the Bible, we will need to uncover the long-standing problem of oppression. At the start, God gave His people the Law of Moses (Mosaic Law) which was intended to have them act in contrast to the oppressive nations of their time. It was meant to elevate them to God’s righteousness so that they do not fall prey to the corrupt, wicked ways of the world. The ancient city of Babylon plays an immense role as it represents a world empire found by King Nimrod who goes on to oppress other nations. While this is happening, we have Abraham who from the age of 3 believed there was only one, true God to who he would pray and worship. God calls Abraham out of Babylon and promises to make him the father of a great nation who must obey Him. In turn, God would guide, protect and give them the land of Israel. As the story unfolds, we are able to witness the complex relationship between the Hebrews and God. The Lord stays true to His Word but their wilful disobedience drives a wedge that blocks His continuous blessings.

The Mosaic Law was great but to a point as people were still sinning because they could not keep all the rules. Eventually, the spirit of the law was lost as it became more of a burden than a loving, reverence to God. Instead, they resorted to killing an animal and presenting it as a sacrificial offering. This may seem like a barbaric act but it was deeply symbolic in that the shedding of blood would remind worshippers that sin leads to death. This would serve as an atonement in an effort to bring reconciliation between man and God. In the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel recognized a new order that was getting ready to materialize.

Daniel 2:44. In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

Daniel 7:27. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.

Ultimately, all of these sacrifices point to the coming of the Lamb who would bear the sin of the world.

Ephesians 2:4-9. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

God loves us so much that He decided to join humanity in the flesh of Jesus. In all of our pain and suffering, He came to be with us so that we may believe for more and be redeemed. To save us from all forms of oppression including but not limited to addictions, sexual, political, racial, sins, classism, loneliness, rejection, worry and fear. The Father beautifully blended Himself as a humble man with unparalleled divinity which no one had ever seen before. Jesus walked and talked with us while performing miracles which would allow the lame and mute to do the same. At the very heart of His ministry was the Kingdom of God which He consistently spoke about with strong fervor. There is reference to both the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. There are various ideas on this subject as some say it’s the same thing while others believe otherwise.

John 6:29. Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

The Kingdom of God is much more profound than just dying and going to Heaven to sing with the angels. It refers to the Lord’s reign over the Universe and all Creation which includes us. Jesus wanted to share His Father’s inheritance which is absolutely remarkable. To help us understand this Kingdom, He chose to display it in ways that would make visible the invisible. In the book of Matthew, there are several parables which bring us closer to how God’s Kingdom works and what it means.

I’ve included The Parable of the Mustard Seed because it is possibly the shortest of all the others.

Matthew 13:31-32. He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Jesus also taught us how to pray effectively to the Father. This prayer can be dissected and examined in closer detail to reveal the framework in how we should petition our requests. The Lord told us about Heaven after we depart but also wanted to make it possible in the here and now.

Matthew 6:9-13. “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ most significant discourse ever delivered because it was and still is revolutionary in its teaching and message. He begins with the Beatitudes which define what it means to be blessed and prosperous. Rather than list a bunch of impersonal commands, Jesus speaks to the person in order to search and transform the heart (re-creation by revelation). It was about refining our inward qualities so that we are in alignment with God’s will. It is essential to recognize that each blessing is followed by a future reward.

Matthew 5:3-10. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Jesus went from place to place restoring health, driving out demons, forgiving sins, feeding the masses with limited supplies of food, raising a friend (and Himself) from the dead, speaking spiritual truth plus more. With all of this buzz, Jesus was trending and throngs of people from all over began following Him. At one point, they wanted to make Him King by force but Jesus withdrew to a mountain by Himself. He was careful not to confuse matters regarding His mission and the purpose for which He was chosen to fulfill.

John 18:36. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

He also attracted the attention of the Pharisees, an ancient Jewish group, that had religious and political influence. Jesus had a few encounters with the Pharisees and each time they would vehemently reject Him. They tried to find ways to accuse Him of evil and wrongdoing because He was a threat to their establishment. Jesus didn’t hold back and  openly called them out as hypocrites because they weren’t genuinely connected to God.

Even to this day, the Kingdom which Jesus presents to us differs in stark contradiction to the way the world operates. He denounced the man-made systems and laws in favour of God’s rule so that no one is left out in the cold. He befriended the outcasts and downtrodden by giving them an everlasting hope along with an opportunity to reign with Him. Jesus opposed hate with love, darkness with light and evil with good.

Matthew 6:33. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Jesus successfully finished phase one of His assignment but He will be back to complete God’s work. In the meantime, we have the precious gift of fellowship with the Lord who pursues us and works all things for good to those who believe in Him.

Amen.

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